www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/ravens-insider/bal-onus-on-offensive-line-to-protect-flacco-20120120,0,4102547.story

baltimoresun.com

Pass protection could be an issue for offense

Flacco has been sacked 14 times in last four games

By Edward Lee

1:50 PM EST, January 20, 2012

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If Joe Flacco’s teammates really want to help the Ravens quarterback in Sunday’s AFC championship game against the New England Patriots, one area they could look to improve is keeping a more stable pocket for him.

Flacco has been sacked 14 times in his past four contests and hit 18 times. He was sacked 24 times and hit 59 times in the team’s first 13 games.

In the Ravens’ 20-13 win in Sunday’s AFC divisional round, the Houston Texans sacked Flacco five times, the second most this season. Houston seemed to enjoy most of its success running stunts with rookie defensive end J.J. Watt and rookie outside linebacker Brooks Reed against the right side of the Ravens’ offensive line, but right guard Marshal Yanda said he and right tackle Michael Oher were prepared for that tactic.

“Every defense has it,” Yanda said of stunting. “So we practice them over and stuff like that. It’s just that sometimes they get us, and that’s what happens. You take blows sometimes, and sometimes you get beat. It happens. You go back the next play and try to do better.”

The task doesn’t get much easier as the Patriots finished the regular season ranked 14th in the NFL with 40 sacks and sacked the Denver Broncos’ Tim Tebow five times in Saturday’s 45-10 thumping.

“They’ve got a good group of guys, and they’re able to do some things,” Flacco said. “They’ve got a big group on the inside and guys on the outside that are pretty athletic and can do their thing.”